Monday, April 2, 2012

In My Dad's Own Words: Roundups in Paris 1941

In 1941 I had a deviated septum operation on my nose at a clinic in Belleville. I had to stay a couple days there. My father, David, came to visit me. When he arrived he was very shook up and out of breath. He had taken the Metro from Paris two stops and got off at the Belleville station. The clinic was at Boulevard de Belleville and he had to walk a few hundred yards from the station. When he exited the Metro car there were four exits, one on each of the four corners of the Boulevard. Somehow he went out a different exit than his usual. Upon arriving at street level he looked around him and could not believe his eyes. The other three exits were completed surrounded by Police with Germans. Busses were waiting to fill up with all the Jews they could find. My father, by pure luck, had taken the one exit that was not surrounded and avoided being captured.

New Discovery: Document found on Mom's History

Josh Korman sent me this link to my mom's home town: Elberfeld, Wuppertal Germany's synagogue There I found a document listing all Jewish people buried in the cemetery there. I found my mom's mother - Grandma Screnca Bugaisky, my mom's little sister Elli, and my mom's cousin Rosa Gelkopf. Ellie died of meningitis, in October 1929 at the age of 4. Three months later Screnza died at a clinic after a medical procedure to enable her to have another child. Coincidently 3 months later cousin Rosa died during childbirth.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In my dad's own words: Escape from Paris

My parents had hid Mr. Duschler's son after he had escaped from Germany as a Prisoner of War at the beginning of the war in early 1940. Mr. Duschler was a peddlar and knew his way around and knew many people in many places. He really came through for me, and also for my family later on. He had contact with a "chemino", a man who worked for the railroad. This "chemino" lived and worked in Vierzon.
Vierzon, at the time, was one of the largest railroad stations in France and was located strategically on the boundary line between zones. But Vierzon was in German occupied territory. Vierzon had only 3 or 4 passenger train lines, but dozens of railroad lines for freight and cattle cars. These freight cars came loaded with food or freight equipment from the South and were discharged ( in Vierzon) and headed North to the occupied Zone and returning empty to the free zone going South.
Mr. Duschler gave me the name of the "chemino" and his address along with the hours that he would return home from work so I could wait for him. I also was instructed how much money I was to give him for helping to cross me over the border. I had no idea how this was to work. I was very reluctant and scared to take the train directly from Paris to Vierzon. Police and Germans were always all around the railroad stations looking for those who were forbidden to ride the train. Many Jews were caught at the station or riding on the train after they were asked to see their identity card.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In My Dad's Own Words: Wearing the Star 1942

In December 1941 the US entered the war. For a short time we felt reassured, but it was only a false sense of security. In early 1942 the newspapers announced that all Jews under occupied territories must report to Police to pick up a star of David with the word "JEW" printed on it. The Star was a 3x3" piece of yellow fabric that we had to cut and sew ourselves with black thread onto our clothes over our left breast. Any Jew caught not wearing it would be arrested.

This caused pandemonium, like a bomb shell. Every Jew, now, was involved. I now realized fully that being a French Jew was of no help to me. My country had betrayed me and was completely working with the Germans. I cannot describe the way I felt at that time having to wear the Star of David in the street. I felt humiliated, degraded, branded like an animal. The hurt inside me was killing me and I knew right then and there I could not take it anymore. I would have to do something. The due date to attach the star was June 6, 1942.

...Finished was the sense of security that I had for being a French citizen. I learned and realized the hard way that I was a Jew, and nothing else. By wearing the Star of David we were sitting ducks. Wherever we went they could spot us a mile away. I decided I would leave the German-occupied zone and go to the Free Zone which was under the Vichy Government, but not German rule.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In My Dad's Own Words: Why write this?

My dad's story in his own words as a teenager in Paris, France 1930's - written by Jack Bienstock - edited by me © Beverly Margolies

There is something unique and extraordinary about our past. We were born in Europe, me in France in 1921, and my wife in Germany in 1923. We were both born to Jewish parents and were living in France in 1939 when the second World War started. We lived under the German occupation of France. We escaped the Germans and were lucky to survive. What we went through during the occupation can not compare to what happened to the Jews that were deported to concentration camps where six million Jews lost their lives. But the fact is that because we were Jews living in Europe at that time our lives were always in danger during the war years 1939 to 1945. We are Jewish survivors of the holocaust.

In My Dad's Own Words: Rene Duschler - neighbor & friend

My dad's story in his own words as a teenager in Paris, France 1930's - © Beverly Margolies

The period between 1934 and 1939 up to early 1940 was for me a happy life. I was young with little responsibilities making good money and no worries. I had friends, especially one very good, close friend living in my apartment building on the second floor. His name was Rene Duschler. He was 2 years older than me. When the war started in September 1939 he was old enough to be drafted and I was not. Rene lived with his father who was a divorced man. He was a peddlar who sold ties and various items from a suitcase, traveling to cafes and restaurants to sell his goods...

Rene Duschler had to report to the military authorities and was sent to the front line in France by the Maginot line where he was taken prisoner by the Germans a few months later..... Somehow he escaped from Germany as a Prisoner of War and returned to his apartment in Paris in early 1940. His father was afraid the Germans would come looking for him, so my parents hid Rene in our apartment, which was on the fourth floor, 31 Rue Fessart, 19th arrondissement.

In Memory of my dad Jacques Bienstock 7/1921-7/2011

My dad passed away last year on July 18th, 2011, 17 days after his 90th birthday. The date on record is 7/19/11. In tribute to his legacy I will be posting episodes from his autobiography. It was actually a joint effort. He wrote his life story in his own words, in his own handwriting, no computer or electronic device to help him. I later edited his handwritten version into an electronic Word Perfect version and later converted it to Microsoft Word. I corrected any grammatical errors or incorrect wording. For example, when he described the events in Paris in turmoil as "titanium", I eventually deduced that "pandemonium" was the word he intended.

Please pay tribute to my dad by visiting and listening to testimony in his own words. I could not duplicate the intensity of his emotion, in my writing. He does a good job of describing how he felt in the videos, in his own words.